Orthopedic Stories

Etha's Story

Nov 15, 2021

“I really struggled. My pain level was usually a 10 out of 10.”


For years, Etha walked around with lower back pain that caused her to give up on a lot of things.

“I really struggled. My pain level was usually a 10 out of 10. It was so bad, I would walk bent over. I could barely make it from the parking garage and into work. I love to travel, go to the gym, ride my bike, walk my dog, I couldn’t do any of those things.”

Etha was diagnosed lumbar spinal stenosis in her lower back. Doctors outside of DMC first tried injections but that didn’t work; it was then recommended she go to DMC Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan (RIM).

“I needed relief and that’s just what I got, practically overnight.”

RIM’s double board-certified pain specialist, Dr. Mahmoud Sabbagh, performed a relatively new procedure on Etha called MILD (minimally-invasive lumbar decompression). During the procedure, an imaging machine is used to identify the exact spot on the spine for the procedure. Through a tiny incision smaller than a baby aspirin, tiny bits of bone and surplus ligament tissue are extracted to remove pressure off the nerves.

Etha was awake for the entire surgery which only took approximately 20 minutes, and she says recovery was easy. She didn’t require physical therapy, just her daily activities.

“I tell my RIM doctor that he’s my angel. I can’t believe it. I am walking five miles a day, going to the gym and, before the surgery, I was thinking about retiring because I just couldn’t get around. But now, I’m practically running the halls at work. That’s a great incentive to stay. And, because I’m moving so much more, I’ve lost 45 pounds.”

Etha says she’s also packing her bags. She has two trips planned and is dreaming about Jamaica or the Bahamas for 2022.